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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jul 16, 2007 9:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

Disclaimer: we all know that I am into the earlier stuff, so I am biased. But I do like these acoustic sets--just not as much.

The acoustic sets in 1969-70 came about by accident and were at first brief and generally sporadic throughout the year. There seems to me to be an organic unfolding of wooden sets that parallels what was happening in the studion--and what was happening in "rock" music in general (CSNY, Poco, etc.) While a number of songs remained consistently in the rotation, there were also many tunes that made one or two appearances. Songs were added as they were written, and a few "chestnuts" emerged in acoustic form. Only around 20% of the years' gigs had acoustic moments, and the first dozen had relatively short interludes. By May 15, the acoustic music had its own slot as an opening set, often following the New Riders. Two concerts were strictly acoustic.

All in all, out of an embryonic experiment, a whole new facet to the dead experience grew. Part of this, of course, was the band's interest in songwriting and playing rather than pure psychedellic jamming.

Fast forward to 1980. The acoustic renaissance seems more of a planned event--a series of gigs at the intimate and acoustically wonderful Warfield and Radio City venues. 15 shows at the Warfield, two in New Orleans, and nine in New York. These shows were all recorded for release as a double l.p. set. The music was clearly rehearsed with this in mind, and the playing is pretty much flawless as a result. No one (in his right mind) can deny that the playing is great, the recording excellent, and the guitars are top quality. But the song selection is awfully repetitive. Night after night, the same songs. About half of the songs harken back to the 1970 list. Many are changed--tempos slowed down or keys altered--but they are familiar enough. The rest include a few covers and a few tunes from post 1970 ventures.

All in all, a marvellous time (and certainly better than many of the electric sets). BUT the material TO ME sounds over rehearsed. Is that a bad thing? Depends on what you like. Did you like the Eagles reunion special? Then you will love these sets. But, a good eighty minute cd will hold pretty much one version of each song, and, with the possible exception of Bird Song and Cassidy, there isn't that much variation. Remember--these are rehearsed and played nightly 26 times.

Some setlists:
To Lay Me Down, On The Road Again, I've Been All Around This World, Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, Bird Song, Cassidy, China Doll-> Ripple

To Lay Me Down, On The Road Again, I've Been All Around This World, Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, Bird Song, Cassidy, China Doll-> Ripple

Dire Wolf, The Race is On, Jack A Roe, Monkey & The Engineer, It Must Have Been The Roses, Dark Hollow, Bird Song, To Lay Me Down, On The Road Again, Ain't No Lie->Ripple


Dire Wolf, On The Road Again, Bird Song, Cassidy, I've Been All Around This World, Heaven Help The Fool, To Lay Me Down, Dark Hollow, Ain't No Lie-> Ripple


On The Road Again, Jack A Roe, Monkey & The Engineer, Bird Song, Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, Heaven Help The Fool, China Doll, Ain't No Lie-> Ripple

Radio City 10-22

Dire Wolf, On The Road Again, I've Been All Around This World, Monkey & The Engineer, To Lay Me Down, Heaven Help The Fool, Bird Song-> Ripple

and so on.

Here are all of the songs played:

Bird Song
All Around this World
Dark Hollow
Rosalie McFall
Monkey and the Engineer
Must Have Been the Roses
Jack a Roe
Ain't No Lie
To Lay Me Down
On the Road Again
China Doll
Dire Wolf
The Race is On
Heaven Help the Fool
Deep Ellum Blues
Iko Iko
El Paso (once)
Little Sadie (once)
Sage and Spirit (once)

26 shows, 21 different songs. usually eight songs per evening (total songs around 208). So 200 +songs played, only 21 different songs. Whew.

That's my one issue. Why no Rider or FOTD or Black Peter or Cumberland or, or ??

The over rehearsed nature of the sets seems too perfect, without that what the hell are we doing flavor of the 1970 sets.

But years acoustic material are treasures.

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Jul 16, 2007 11:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

I find the acoustic sets from the Warfield and Radio City to be exquisite and I feel extremely lucky to have attended five of the Radio City shows.

That said, I must agree that these sets have a rather "over-produced" quality to them, compered to 1970, and there is very little jamming or even deviation from one night to the next.

What I find interesting is that the acoustic sets from New Orleans, and then later in 1980 and 1981, seem to be more relaxed and the versions are frequently more creative, with the nice extended instrumental breaks more prevalent during the 1970 sets. Some of these renditions of Cassidy and Bird Song are extremely well jammed...





Its a shame that the band didnt perform accousticly at other times during their history! Can you imagine what acoustic sets might have sounded like in 1973 or 1974?

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Poster: nagdot Date: Jul 16, 2007 11:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

hey man i remember seein a few videos where everyone was lookin at sheet music and durin the 80s they are 25 yrs into it .they wouldnt necessarily have had to practice any song if its in writing in front of you .as trained and experienced as they were it would still be an improv type show .the over doing it could have been from lookin at the sheet music then playin in the mind.not to mention the same 21 songs youd easily play them after 2 or 3 shows by mind and not sheet music.when i was in my band i couldnt read music every show was improv for me .even the same 20 songs we played i knew by heart but had to play with the band and not in my head . yes i confused myself too lol

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Jul 16, 2007 12:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

I love both acoustic "eras" but I've got to agree with you on this one. To me, the 1980 sets, while excellent, are essentially indistinguishable from one another. If you've got two or three of these sets you've basically got them all, something that can almost never be said of Dead shows. The 1970 sets are more nebulous in nature, maybe because they went on longer, maybe because less was expected, maybe because of the different venues, maybe because the whole acoustic thing was novel after a few years of brain-melting acid rock...it’s hard to say.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jul 16, 2007 12:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

I sat down a year ago to make a simple compilation cd or two of the 1970 acoustic numbers. I realized that this was impossible. I did eliminate the Harpur stuff as it's all on one cd already (with room enough to add the Bobby Ace songs), but several of the sets were so nice, I decided not to chop them up. I think I had it down to 4 cds plus Harpur. And not a bit of it would seem redundant to me. Rosalie McFall has David Grissom on one version, David Nelson and Grissom on another, etc. Deep Ellum is done differently. I know You Rider--different takes on this one.

Maybe I'll get back to this project at some point, because I do love those wooden sets.

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Jul 16, 2007 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

over rehearsed? That's interesting because what I have allways heard is that they practically didn't rehearse at all before doing these shows. Anyone know?

I find huge merits in both - the 70's of course have that huge historic thing ( kinda like what you mentioned about other bands going acoustic/country ), kind of a fallback from the chaos, and also was Jerry's voice ever any sweeter? But the 80's shows also have some sweet stuff like the acoustic China Dolls and On the Road Again. All in all I love both acoustic eras. Wish they had done it more.

As for repetition - they played FOTD and Uncle Johns at just about every 70's acoustic set didn't they?

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Jul 16, 2007 10:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

I wonder why they didn't do the MTV unplugged back when it was coming on strong? Also, quick question...as for acoustic shows, Phil played electric bass at the 80's gigs. Did he do the same for the 70's?

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Jul 16, 2007 11:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

Yes. Just as he did on Workingman's and American Beauty.

And, yes, of course there was much repetition on the 1970 acoustic shows. But between the beginning and the end of the year, lots of songs came and went. It wasn't the same set list every other night.

And, yes, it has been documented that they did rehearse at Front Street since they wanted to record the shows for release--and because they hadn't played acoustic in ten years.

I do not mean to imply that the stuff is boring. It's just that I can pick up almost any 1970 set and feel a difference in the air. part of this is due,no doubt, to the constant change in venues in 1970 vs. the 3 venues in 1980. Different sound, stage, audience--and usually a few weeks between acoustic sets. Sometimes the Riders joined in, sometimes not. Just a little looser.

But I do like Reckoning quite a bit. Ain't No Lie is so damn sweeeeet--as are Bird Song and Cassidy.

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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Jul 16, 2007 3:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Part Two: the 1980 acoustic shows

I agree that they're both great, but what a difference in conception: in 1970 a psychedelic band reinventing themselves while getting back to their folk roots, in 1980 preparation for a commercial live release. The latter is bound to sound stagy in comparison to the former, however well executed. That said, I'll always be grateful for the To Lay Me Down on Reckoning.

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